Statement from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries following Council debate of the county-wide petition calling for an independent review of proposals for the library service. (19/01/2011).
We are disappointed that a full Council vote was not held on whether to implement our petition demand – a decision that was apparently taken at the last minute, despite the Council knowing for some weeks to expect the petition submission.
We are pleased however, that the petition has fulfilled its goal of prompting a full Council debate on the plans for the library service, and bringing this issue to wider public attention. We are encouraged by remarks made by opposition Councillors during the debate, which will be carried forward into the Cabinet meeting on the 2nd February, and the subsequent final budget decision-making meeting on the 16th.
We must hope that the administration takes heed of the strength of feeling around this issue. If they do not, they will be publicly disregading the views of the 13,000 plus members of the Gloucestershire electorate who have signed the petition, and called for their representatives to pause and thoroughly examine the consequences of continuing down the path of destruction represented by the proposed 43% cuts to the library service. A failure to do so will leave County finances at risk from the crippling expense associated with the legal challenges that are likely to follow any moves to implement these proposals.
Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries have raised the profile of the plight of our libraries to the national stage, proving how vital the public library service is in contributing to a healthy, motivated, and educated society and how important it is to the people of Gloucestershire. In these times of economic hardship libraries are more important than ever. We would like to thank the thousands who have supported us thus far, from across the county, of all ages and from all walks of life. We urge them not lose heart, and to continue to hold Gloucestershire County Council to account.
On the 5th February we are taking part in a national day of action against the shocking scale of the cuts to public libraries across the country – of which Gloucestershire is one of the worst offenders. We will be holding read-in events in many of our libraries to celebrate all that they do. To find out more or to get involved people can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be updating our website http://foclibrary.wordpress.com/ with information and sending details to the local papers. Please come along and support us, and your local library.